Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Metrolink 111 engineer led solitary life marred by tragedy
LA Times ^ | 9/17/08 | David Kelly and Sam Quinones

Posted on 09/17/2008 9:41:56 AM PDT by ZGuy

Those who knew Robert M. Sanchez say the Metrolink engineer led a solitary life in recent years and was intensely private, sharing little about a past that included tragedy and run-ins with the law.

Sanchez died Friday at the helm of a Metrolink train after apparently failing to stop at a signal near Chatsworth and colliding with an oncoming Union Pacific train. The crash, the worst in modern California history, killed 24 others and injured 135.

Investigators on Tuesday said they had ruled out train and track failure in the accident, and are close to ruling out signal failure. They said they are now focusing on Sanchez.

Sanchez was involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian earlier this month.

In the years before his death, Sanchez led a nomadic life, with addresses in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Nebraska and California.

In 2000, he and Daniel Charles Burton, a waiter, bought a home in Crestline.

Burton moved to California from West Haven, Conn., his family said, seeking better weather and the freedom to be gay.

On Feb. 14, 2003, Burton hanged himself in the garage of their home.

"Rob, Happy Valentine's Day," read a note Burton left behind

The coroner's report showed that Burton tested positive for HIV.

Even before the suicide, Sanchez was having problems.

In 2002, he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting. Sanchez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, paid a fine and served 90 days in jail.

At the time he said a lot of things were going on that caused him to make stupid mistakes.

He also had a federal tax lien filed against him in 1991 for $6,054 and a Riverside County tax lien for $1,205 filed in 2006.

Sanchez took diabetes medication.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: mentalhealth; metrolink; suicide; traincrash

1 posted on 09/17/2008 9:41:56 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

So if this guy was so effed up then how did he pass the background check to be responsible for several hundred lives each day? WAS there a background check? Did he get a pass because he was gay?


2 posted on 09/17/2008 9:47:16 AM PDT by PeterFinn ("I will stand with the Muslims" - Baraq Hussein Obama p. 261 "Audacity of Hope")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
Sanchez took diabetes medication

Anybody want to guess that these drugs and whatever else he was taking had to do with this?

I'd feel sorry for him but this scum bag took out others as well. That reminds me, don't they do screening of people who work for metrolink and other companies that they don't do this kind of garbage?

3 posted on 09/17/2008 9:47:18 AM PDT by mainestategop (MAINE: The way communism should be)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PeterFinn
how did he pass the background check to be responsible for several hundred lives each day

It's California right?

4 posted on 09/17/2008 9:50:48 AM PDT by nascarnation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: mainestategop

Are these engineers regulated?


5 posted on 09/17/2008 9:51:51 AM PDT by mmanager (What a mess we are in.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Does anybody know the location of the “dead man” switch/button on these trains? If he collapsed, could he have fallen on that switch, keeping it engaged and preventing the train from coming to an automatic halt?


6 posted on 09/17/2008 9:52:04 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
Well at least this explains why he was texting teenage boys.
7 posted on 09/17/2008 9:53:09 AM PDT by Slicksadick (Go out on a limb........Its where the fruit is.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Who dosen't want to wear the ribbon????

8 posted on 09/17/2008 9:55:15 AM PDT by Vaquero (" an armed society is a polite society" Heinlein "MOLON LABE!" Leonidas of Sparta)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: balk; editor-surveyor

Can you shed any light on #6?


9 posted on 09/17/2008 9:55:29 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation
It's California right?

My thoughts exactly! Everything is regulated by that God forsaken nanny state except essential workers who are lazy or nuts! More reasons why not to trust government!

10 posted on 09/17/2008 9:56:34 AM PDT by mainestategop (MAINE: The way communism should be)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation

In this particular case, as lawsuit is justified.

Metrolink was negligent. If I was a passenger, and discovered the engineers personal history, I would walk.

L.A. Times are being typical when trying to portray the engineer as a “victim” of circumstances. The man had a criminal record as well as a colored history. As a result of Metrolink’s neglect, innocent and unsuspecting people died or were seriously injured.


11 posted on 09/17/2008 10:04:07 AM PDT by This Just In
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
Sanchez took diabetes medication

There is a difference between insulin and glucophage.

12 posted on 09/17/2008 10:07:30 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Nowadays, there is no “deadman control.” Instead there is an “Alerter” If a control, (throttle, brake, etc.) is not moved in a set amount of time, an alarm is sounded that the engineer has to acknowledge. If he doesn’t acknowledge the alert or change a position of a control, a penalty brake application will be made, slowing the train.


13 posted on 09/17/2008 10:15:51 AM PDT by Chief Engineer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Don’t know for sure about the newer engines, but on older engines, it is a pedal that requires measurable force to depress. I believe that some of the european engines use a hand grip with a similar provision.

I doubt that the deadman switch played into this. It’s more likely that he was just not paying attention, and that the curve of the track kept the trains out of each other’s view until it was beyond the point of prevention. Trains take a long time to slow.


14 posted on 09/17/2008 10:34:46 AM PDT by editor-surveyor ( If Obama had Palin's resume and experience Obama would be qualified to be VP too.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: XeniaSt

I don’t have any knowledge on the subject. Could you provide some information and whether or not his diabetic condition could theoretically have been a factor in the crash? Thanks.


15 posted on 09/17/2008 10:36:24 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Metrolink was in violation of federal regulations in allowing this man to operate a train. He is disqualified in numerous ways.


16 posted on 09/17/2008 10:36:30 AM PDT by editor-surveyor ( If Obama had Palin's resume and experience Obama would be qualified to be VP too.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation
"It's California right?"

Federal regulations control rail and highway commercial traffic.

In all cases where both control, California standards exceed all others.

17 posted on 09/17/2008 10:39:11 AM PDT by editor-surveyor ( If Obama had Palin's resume and experience Obama would be qualified to be VP too.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: editor-surveyor

The conductor reported that the engineer missed the final two calls, thus the question arises as to whether the engineer might have been unconscious.


18 posted on 09/17/2008 10:39:30 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: mainestategop

wow, maybe he used secret mind power to will this trespasser on the tracks too!

>>>Sanchez was involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian earlier this month.


19 posted on 09/17/2008 10:40:35 AM PDT by BurbankKarl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Huh? If he was unconscious, how did he stop at Chatsworth Station?

>>>The conductor reported that the engineer missed the final two calls, thus the question arises as to whether the engineer might have been unconscious.


20 posted on 09/17/2008 10:43:23 AM PDT by BurbankKarl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: This Just In

Actually, the biggest victim in this tragedy is the aggrieved PR lady, who quit. She was the front page story on Monday with a huge picture....a lot of negative comments from victims families and acquaintances about that.


21 posted on 09/17/2008 10:49:08 AM PDT by BurbankKarl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Suicide; he was texting his last words...


22 posted on 09/17/2008 10:52:49 AM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BurbankKarl

Of course we’re just brainstorming here, but if he left Chatsworth and immediately fell unconscious he would have missed the final callout for sure. That would leave the Chatsworth departure callout as the other one. I can’t imagine that he could have engaged to leave Chatsworth without the callout due to a medical condition, but I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate here to see if options can be ruled in or out. In fact it was unclear from the news accounts if the final two callouts missed referred to stations or signals.


23 posted on 09/17/2008 10:53:30 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

The railroads called it “featherbedding” when the unions insisted on having a “fireman” in the cab. Eventually the unions caved in favor of higher salaries, and the firemen slowly disappeared. A shame, really, for a vehicle as potentially destructive as a train to only have one operator.


24 posted on 09/17/2008 10:55:50 AM PDT by editor-surveyor ( If Obama had Palin's resume and experience Obama would be qualified to be VP too.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: mainestategop
Anybody want to guess that these drugs and whatever else he was taking had to do with this?

Diabetes medication can be oral or indictable depending on the severity of the condition. If you pancreas is still functioning at some level, oral meds usually suffice. If it has shut down you will need to go on insulin (indictable usually although there is some progress in making it into a spray that you inhale).

Your pancreas secretes insulin, which helps you to metabolize sugar, if your natural insulin production goes down it results in an increasing blood sugar level, which, in the extreme, can cause you to blackout. Having said that the effect of either form of medication is to stabilize your blood sugar levels within a specific (healthy) range by either stimulating your pancreas to produce more insulin (oral meds) or by replacing your natural insulin completely (indictable insulin).

Your blood sugar varies from day to day depending on diet, exercise, stress levels, and most importantly insulin level, this requires a diabetic to test his/her blood with a monitor (invasive procedure, which requires you to draw blood), usually twice daily. This provides you with information used to adjust the next dose so as to be neither over or under medicated. The process is rather like a duck flying backward in that you don't know where you're going, only where you've been. The process is not perfect and can result in applying the wrong dosage, which can be dangerous.

This is the important part:
If you allow your blood sugar to get either too high (hyperglycemic) or too low (hypoglycemic) the resulting effect is almost the same, drowsy, groggy, can’t mentally focus, vision problems, and if it's bad enough unconsciousness followed by comma.

Yes, the train engineer could have blacked out either because he overdosed, or because he didn't take his meds at all!

Regards,
GtG

25 posted on 09/17/2008 11:07:40 AM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
There is a difference between insulin and glucophage.

Too much or too little insulin( injection ) can cause blackout problems

Glucophage( pills ) does not affect one in any where near the same way


26 posted on 09/17/2008 11:12:22 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Old Professer
"Suicide; he was texting his last words..."

That would be my guess.

Prior to blowing through the red signal at more that 40mph, he passed at least two yellow signals telling him that he was going to have to stop. If he had seen the two prior restricting signals, he should have already had his hands on the break before he even saw the final red. It seems hard to believe that he missed all three.

Considering his past, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he decided to go out in a "blaze of glory."
27 posted on 09/17/2008 11:13:43 AM PDT by indthkr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Gandalf_The_Gray; XeniaSt; ZGuy
I should add to my previous that individuals who are either hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic are often taken to be drunk as the symptoms are very similar.

Regards,
GtG

28 posted on 09/17/2008 11:16:53 AM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: XeniaSt
Glucophage( pills ) does not affect one in any where near the same way

Half right, if you were to stop taking them, in time you would go hypoglycemic, no?

Regards,
GtG

29 posted on 09/17/2008 11:20:37 AM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: mainestategop
"Anybody want to guess that these drugs and whatever else he was taking had to do with this?"

I take diabetic medication every day, and it hasn't made me do stupid things. Obviously the guy's head was up his ass over personal issues. Unless he was doing drugs, drinking, or taking anti-depressants or sleeping pills, I doubt that on its own, the diabetic medication would have had any adverse effects on him.

30 posted on 09/17/2008 11:24:37 AM PDT by mass55th (Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway...John Wayne)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: mass55th

Well I hear that alot of Metro rail and bus drivers in LA are drug fiends.


31 posted on 09/17/2008 11:28:05 AM PDT by mainestategop (MAINE: The way communism should be)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: indthkr

Hopefully they’ll release the pertinent autopsy and black box information as soon as they can and not make us wait for the final report.


32 posted on 09/17/2008 11:29:21 AM PDT by ZGuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Gandalf_The_Gray
XS>Glucophage( pills ) does not affect one in any where near the same way

Half right, if you were to stop taking them, in time you would go hypoglycemic, no?

Regards, GtG

No it takes months of not taking pills for any change.

Unless you ingest large quantities of rapid carbohydrates


33 posted on 09/17/2008 11:33:57 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: mainestategop

Do you know if Metrolink has mandatory routine drug testing on their engineers?


34 posted on 09/17/2008 11:47:44 AM PDT by mass55th (Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway...John Wayne)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: This Just In
"Metrolink was negligent."

Not Metrolink. They got him through a subcontractor, probably so they could simultaneously minimize pay, benefits, and liability.
35 posted on 09/17/2008 12:22:05 PM PDT by indthkr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: indthkr

Yes, Metrolink. He was an employee and receiving a pay check and benefits from Metro. Therefore, Metrolink is culpable.

The resignation of their PR person is further evidence that Metrolink has serious internal conflicts.


36 posted on 09/17/2008 12:30:36 PM PDT by This Just In
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Gandalf_The_Gray

If you stop taking your meds your blood sugar goes up, that makes you hyperglycemic. Those taking meds orally are still producing insulin and the meds help the body handle blood sugar.


37 posted on 09/17/2008 1:48:06 PM PDT by jwparkerjr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: This Just In
"Yes, Metrolink. He was an employee and receiving a pay check and benefits from Metro. Therefore, Metrolink is culpable."

From the L.A. Times Article:

The NTSB said Tuesday that Sanchez was hired by Union Pacific in 1996. In 1998, he went to work for Amtrak, then he was hired by a contractor to work for Metrolink in 2005.
38 posted on 09/17/2008 1:55:47 PM PDT by indthkr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: jwparkerjr; XeniaSt
If you stop taking your meds your blood sugar goes up, that makes you hyperglycemic.

Mea Culpa, I got my hypo and hyper reversed, sometimes I post before proof reading!

Those taking meds orally are still producing insulin and the meds help the body handle blood sugar.

Yes they are producing insulin but not as much as needed to maintain the proper blood sugar levels. I they were able to maintain the proper balance through diet they would be "pre-diabetic" not "diabetic".

This I know because my wife is insulin dependent diabetic whereas I am pre-diabetic. I take Avanderal daily and my A1C level stays around 6.1-6.2. If I stop the meds it goes to 6.9 which is still borderline and not yet truly diabetic (A1C level of 7.0 and up by definition).

XeniaSt posted in #33 the following:
...it takes months of not taking pills for any change...Unless you ingest large quantities of rapid carbohydrates.

The first statement is somewhat misleading as an A1C blood test is a three month running average of glucose levels, so you will only see the results after testing. I suspect that changes start concurrent with dropping off the meds however. The second statement is a given, diet always plays a large part in controlling sugar levels.

Regards,
GtG

39 posted on 09/17/2008 3:28:21 PM PDT by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
The dead man switch is a foot pedal.

DEADMAN FOOT VALVE: A device, which will initiate a penalty brake application on a locomotive after a short time delay, if foot pedal is released on locomotive and brake cylinder pressure is not at least 25 psi.

40 posted on 09/17/2008 8:18:49 PM PDT by balk (thefightnetwork.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy
Interestingly, most of the talk I've seen is how the lead passenger car sustained so much damage, regardless of the engineer's error. Could anti-climbers on the couplers have prevented the lead locomotive from rising above the frame and smashing through the soft sheet metal?

It appears that the frame of the lead passenger car did not absorb any impact. Anti-climbers are used on all tanker cars after the wreck in Mississauga in the 80's, when propane cars climbed each other and exploded. The anti-climber extends the vertical reach of the coupler knuckle by about a foot each way. If a car leaves the rail, travelling lower or higher, the coupler remains engaged. My grandfather was on the board that implemented this device.

41 posted on 09/17/2008 8:27:34 PM PDT by balk (thefightnetwork.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ZGuy

Sodomites are crazy. End of story.


42 posted on 09/17/2008 8:56:35 PM PDT by farmer18th (Iraqi Nation Building GWB-Style: "No law that contradicts.. Islam may be established")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: indthkr

“...to work for...”

Who is paying the contractor? Metronlink. If Metrolink was not culpable, why did their PR official resign. After all, it was the contractors responsibility. Using your argument, the focus should solely be on the contractor. The reason it is not is because the engineer, ultimately, works for Metro.

Now, I would not be surprised if the families of the victims filed a lawsuit against the contractor as well. As I said, Metronlink is responsible.


43 posted on 09/17/2008 8:58:23 PM PDT by This Just In
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson